HELENA, Mont. – Governor Steve Bullock today highlighted the Billings community and school-based efforts to enhance youth mental health and crisis services, including RiverStone Health Orchard School Clinic and Yellowstone Youth Crisis Network. The Governor also highlighted a new crisis service prevention tool, the Crisis Text Line, which he announced on Wednesday.
“The health and safety of our kids is a top priority,” said Governor Bullock. “It takes state, local, tribal, education, and community partners to come together to address youth mental health issues, and that’s exactly what’s happening here in Billings and results are remarkable.”
Governor Bullock toured the RiverStone Health Orchard School Clinic at Orchard Elementary School. Orchard School Clinic is one of four school-based clinics in Montana. The clinic is the result of collaboration between RiverStone Health, Billings Clinic, and Billings Public Schools with support from the City of Billings and the South Billings Urban Renewal Association.
“The right care at the right time can be the difference between a tragedy and a young person regaining control of their life,” noted Matt Kuntz, Executive Director of NAMI Montana.
The Yellowstone County Youth Crisis Diversion Project is a collaborative community effort in Billings to provide urgent response to youth experiencing mental health crises and their families. The goal of the project is to help youth stay in their homes by responding quickly, helping families navigate the system to make informed choices about services and supports that best fit their needs
Governor Bullock has increased funding for and access to mental health services for Montanans, from community-based preventative services to community-based crisis services to statewide acute care needs. The Montana Office of Public Instruction (OPI) also provides suicide awareness and prevention training to schools.
The communities of Butte, Kalispell and Browning are working with OPI and local community providers to increase mental health supports; seven schools on Indian Reservations are working with OPI to provide mental health wraparound services to students in need; and the agency has developed a youth suicide prevention protocol in partnership with rural communities in the Bitterroot Valley and Fort Peck Reservation.
“This work is urgent, and it requires an all-hands-on-deck approach,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Denise Juneau. “Schools play a vital role, but they cannot do it alone. I applaud Billings’ school-family-community partnerships. They’re clearly making a difference.”
This week Governor Bullock announced the Crisis Text Line, which offers 24/7 access to crisis counselors through a familiar format that is especially appealing to youth: text message. To access this service, Montanans who prefer to communicate via text message can text ‘mt’ to the number 741-741 and a Crisis Counselor will respond immediately to provide assistance.